Revealed: The 15 people who will define the future of arts in Britain
Audacious artistic entrepreneurs, from Peckham to Glasgow, have defied the recession by forming small but perfectly formed businesses on the cutting-edge of creativity
Friday 19 June 2009
Sir Alan should watch his back. In the teeth of financial meltdown, in bunkers, car-parks, studios and squats all over the country, there's a host of young artistic entrepreneurs applying some savvy creative thinking to their businesses. These twenty- and thirtysomethings are setting up everything from magazines to club nights, record labels to pop-up exhibitions, websites to new performance spaces. Dominic Flannigan and Martyn Flyn founded the LuckyMe label and collective to build up a hip-hop scene in the traditional dance and art-rock hub of Glasgow; Todd Selby realised everyone likes to nose around other people's houses so set up a website showcasing his photographs of the homes and workspaces of the world's coolest scenesters; and Bompas & Parr jumped on a niche market in jelly (what else?) to create must-have architectural wonders out of gelatinous goo.
The new art-business model often involves doing more than one thing at once, too, and often on a shoestring budget. Discordo runs clubs in London and Southend at the same time as designing the Horrors' artwork; Hilary Rose Crisp manages her own galleries in both London and LA; and Sharmadean Reid is currently expanding the brand of her super-cool magazine WAH to set up a nail bar in Dalston, north-east London.
They've all just been named in a list of the world's most inspiring creative entrepreneurs drawn up by Dazed & Confused magazine. Also on the list are Matthew Stone for his work on The Centre of the Universe, a "nomadic art space", which pops up and hosts salons, exhibitions and events for up-and-coming artists in unexpected urban areas all over London and Hannah Barry whose lo-fi gallery in Peckham has moved from humble beginnings in a manor-house squat and sculpture shows in a multi-story car park to a pavilion at the heart of the art world at the 53rd Venice Biennale earlier this month. In October last year, as the credit crunch was bedding in, Stone, Barry and their small but perfectly formed group of young artists and curators put on a show in a dilapidated warehouse in the grimiest corner of a run-down estate in Peckham, south London. The show's name? Optimism. The future's bright.
Bompas & Parr
A vaporous "walk-in gin and tonic", a giant Victorian breakfast, and the world's first glow-in-the-dark jelly are among the experiments to emerge from the studios of Bompas and Parr, a London duo who "operate in the space between food and architecture". The former school friends, 25 and 26 years old respectively, were inspired by jelly. "We wanted to do something fun with jelly at Borough Market," explains Harry Parr, "but we couldn't afford any moulds, so we decided to make our own." Two years on, and commissions from the likes of Disney and Selfridges help support some of their wilder ideas. "We're always pushing the boundaries."
Obsessed with anatomy, human-animal hybrids, masks, melancholia and the macabre, artist Alex Turvey creates unsettling glitter-filled dreamscapes full of fuzzy-felt characters, bones and human organs, combining live-action with animation to produce his stunning videos for projects with Polydor Records, Ford, MTV, Topshop, Budweiser and Nike. Channel 4 picked up on his enchanting aesthetic for idents before he even graduated and he has won wide recognition for his TV commercial work and music videos – for Bright Eyes and Grizzly Bear among others. "Budgets are certainly being cut, and we're all affected," he says. "On the bright side, however, it does leave more time for self-initiated fun, and having always grappled with tiny budgets, I'm used to working on a shoestring."
Paloma Faith, MGMT and Telepathe are just a few of the artists who have fallen for the DIY aesthetic of 26-year-old designer Petra Storrs (whose portrait of Paloma Faith features on the cover of this issue). "Lots of things I use in my work are found on the streets around my house," she says. Storr often chooses to work in paper because of its immediacy, finding it to be "almost like a blueprint of how you might really make something if you developed it in another material". She has directed music videos for Florence and the Machine, Friendly Fires and Emiliana Torrini and has designed elaborate, flamboyant stage costumes for Faith and Patrick Wolf.
Stylist and publisher of 'WAH Magazine', Sharmadean Reid, is a multi-tasking phenomenon, and she's only 24 years old. "We live in an era where DIY is made even easier with home technology," she says. "I started 'WAH' because I want to inspire and educate girls." Next step is the opening of Wah Nails, a nail salon in London. "People aren't gonna throw money at any ideas these days, you really have to rise above the rest. Plus rent is cheap on creative spaces at the moment. Apparently, there are plans to make abandoned shops into gallery spaces. That can only be a good thing. Maybe it will make us like Berlin or something... "
Catherine Borra is one of the beautiful minds behind The Centre of the Universe – a nomadic art space that the 23-year-old founded and runs alongside Matthew Stone and four others. She is also the woman behind Supercream, an online platform for producing art-related projects and ideas. "Both Supercream and the Centre of the Universe are independent organisations, so in our own way we have profited from the recession. Ground zero is always an exciting place to be in, it's very free."
"I come from a theatre design education so there's a certain amount of fantasy and drama in what I make," says fantastical set/prop designer and illustrator Gary Card. "I try to bring ideas that you wouldn't normally find in a fashion story." Card's truly inventive design work extends to making playful puppets for Uniqlo, creating shop window displays for Stella McCartney and 80s-style toys that reference his childhood. The 27-year-old makes everything by hand in his kitchen in Hackney, then places it in front of the camera to be photographed.
Twenty-five-year-old Dominic Flannigan is the co-founder (alongside Martyn Flyn) and art director of LuckyMe, the Glasgow record label and artist "coolective" responsible for the UK's best young electronic hip-hop producers. Their roster includes Hudson Mohawke and Flannigan's own group with Flyn, The Blessings. They started in 2002 with a dream of running a hip-hop group "in a place not on the map for hip-hop". In 2007, they set up the record label, collective and website. "We are a mixture of cocky swagger and honesty," says Flannigan. "I can't help think that we're contributing to a new Beat movement."
When he's not triggering distorted samples as part of The Big Pink, Milo Cordell runs Merok Records, the label that introduced Crystal Castles' madness to Europe and released "Atlantis To Interzone" by Klaxons. "I've always been inspired by labels with a strong sense of ambition and DIY," he says. "Merok is literally just a representation of my taste."
Hilary Rose Crisp
The only other gallery apart from Hilary Rose Crisp's small and sweet space to have a toehold in both London and Los Angeles is Gagosian – the largest gallery in the world. Art is in the 27-year-old's blood. "My grandfather hustled art to feed his family," she says. "My mother paid her divorce lawyer in landscape paintings of Laguna Beach." After working in LA's Ace Gallery, Crisp started a project space called PawnShop, which gained her name when she opened her second space in London's Fitzrovia, repping hot young artists like Nico Vascellari and George Young. "I want to demystify gallery practices," she explains. "Exhibiting and looking at art is quite a natural thing. It shouldn't be an enigma."
Dubbed the "Horst of the hip set" by 'The New York Times', American photographer Todd Selby has witnessed his website, theselby.com, which showcases the homes and workspaces of friends and creatives around the globe – from Peaches Geldof's Brooklyn pad to Michael Stipe's Tribeca loft – become a much-talked about exhibition at Colette and a book, due out in 2010. "I had been a portrait and fashion photographer for eight years previously," he says. "I wanted to do a photo project where I could present my work directly to people on the internet." But even he's surprised by how it's snowballed. "I guess that when someone works on a project that taps into an innate human characteristic, such as nosiness and curiosity, it can be pretty appealing." theselby.com
Deano Jo is the unspoken ruler of the growing art empire Real Gold – a collective of young artists, photographers, writers, musicians and promoters who are renowned for putting on some of the best parties in London. In its three years, Real Gold has also launched the satirical cult publication 'FUN Magazine', and released a record by the blues band The Train Chronicles. "What I really want to do is create something permanent," says the 23-year-old. "Our ambition with Real Gold is to spotlight all the things we love through print, releases and parties, while maintaining a really strong sense of community."
In addition to throwing some of the coolest parties in London, Dan Beaumont of Disco Bloodbath has made the bold move of opening up a café/bar/ gallery in the heart of Dalston (together with Mikki Most and Dan Pope of Trailer Trash). "We're not following the normal template of opening bars," says Beaumont. "I don't think there's anywhere else quite like it."
As the publishing crisis spreads to all four corners of the book world, Paul Schiek is forging ahead with an idea that is keeping his independent photography book publisher, TBW Books, afloat. He produces limited-edition, subscription-only book series that hand creative control to the photographers, who are both cult (Todd Hido, Alec Soth) and almost unheard of (Marianne Mueller, Abner Nolan).
The 25-year-old gallery owner Hannah Barry turned her industrial living space in Peckham into her own gallery back in 2006. Now she has 30 artists under her wing, has established Bold Tendencies – an annual group show of sculpture – and put on her first international show at Venice Biennale this year. "A friend once told me that it was important to relax into chaos," she says. "Another friend always tells me to hold my nerve. I try to achieve a combination of the two."
"Coming from Southend has been a big factor in my motivation," explains creative wunderkind Ciaran O'Shea. "If you want something done, you have to make it happen yourself." The 27-year-old set up the raucous Junkclub in his hometown, and running London's Experimental Circle Club, while also releasing records by Ipso Facto and Ulterior on his DiscError imprint. That would be more than enough for most, but O'Shea's true love is design and, under the alias of Discordo, he creates artwork for The Horrors and These New Puritans. "
For more creative entrepreneurs, see this month's issue of 'Dazed and Confused', out now. To read more in-depth profiles of these and other young creative entrepreneurs, visit dazeddigital.com
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